Inkjet printing was first developed in the 19th century when Lord Kelvin patented his Syphon Recorder which printed telegraph messages via continuous inkjet technology. Over a century later inkjet printers became commonplace in the home and technological developments have made it possible to produce models which offer quick, high quality print for a retail price of just £25. The advances have not stopped there, however, as we have now entered the world of 3D Printing.
3D Printing Technology
3D printing is not for laying down characters onto paper it is actually a method of producing solids using similar technology to our domestic inkjet equipment. The phrase 3D printing was coined in 1995 when two graduate students, Jim Bredt and Tim Anderson, modified an inkjet printer and enabled it to extrude a binding solution into a powder bed. This discovery was developed to produce equipment which transforms virtual designs into many incredibly thin horizontal layers. These sections are then built up to produce a solid form. The process originally utilized plastics to form the solid articles but can now produce items from metal and even a material which is partly wood.
The technology can be used to manufacture a wide variety of products from simple plastic ornaments to engine components. It is particularly effective in the production of items like hearing aids and artificial limbs which benefit from being an exact fit to the individual as the 3D design process allows a scan of an object or part of the body to produce an exact replica. Brooklyn based MakerBot have illustrated this point with a brand new service at their retail store in New York.
Copy Your Own Head
At the MakerBot store customers can now visit a printing booth which produces an exact likeness of their own head! The software creates an image in store for the customer’s approval before the head is actually made at a nearby manufacturing plant. The whole service costs just $25. The company are now also offering a 3D printing system for domestic use which costs as little as $2000 enabling the public to make many of the items they want themselves instead of buying them! Indeed 3D printing is becoming all the rage with hobbyists around the world as the equipment becomes more and more affordable. Virginia Tech University have come up with a good idea whilst 3D printers are still too expensive for most people to invest in. They have set up DreamVendor, a futuristic vending machine to which students can upload their own designs. The machine then manufactures the item and dispenses it!
It has just emerged that the DB5 Aston Martin used in the latest Bond film, Skyfall, was actually a 3D printed replica produced to protect the priceless original. If the car was damaged during filming they could simply produce another one! NASA is also now using the technology to produce engine parts for the next launch vehicle in its space program.
Future of 3D Printing
It would seem that 3D printing is set to cause a bit of a revolution in manufacturing but also in domestic production. As with the original inkjet printers the technology is reducing in price rapidly and before we know it we will all be designing and making our own ornaments, cutlery and toys at home!
Author Bio: Guest article by S. Stacey. Stacey blogs passionately on a variety of subjects including technology. On this occasion Stacey has worked with Cartridges Direct UK who stock official, and remanufacture ink cartridges including the HP ink 364xl.